Comcast Interfering with Customers’ Traffic

NEW YORK - One of the nation's largest Internet-service providers is actively interfering with its customers' traffic, citing network management as the reason.


Nationwide tests conducted by the Associated Press news outlet confirmed that Comcast Corp. is actively interfering with some of its high-speed Internet subscribers' attempts to share files online. The tests showed that the interference came more often with file uploads than downloads.


Comcast officials acknowledged to the AP that the company is using sophisticated methods to manage its network, but did not elaborate on the technology.


The interference, which is most noticed by users on peer-to-peer network sites, involves Comcast sending messages to participating PCs, making it appear that each computer is telling the other to stop communicating, reports state. This apparently is an aggressive attempt by Comcast to mange its network by preventing file-sharing traffic from using too much bandwidth and affecting other customers.


Though industry insiders agree that Comcast probably is acting within its legal rights, they have expressed concern about the precedent Comcast's actions could set, since other ISPs could follow suit and essentially force customers to search for providers that allow peer-to-peer file sharing. The technology being used by Comcast, the nation's largest cable company and No. 2 Internet-service provider, could cripple several peer-to-peer, file-sharing networks - including BitTorrent, eDonkey and Gnutella - if it were adopted by other ISPs.


Peer-to-peer sites account for 50 percent to 90 percent of all Internet traffic, according to a recent survey by ipoque GmbH, a German vendor of traffic-management equipment.